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Catalysis from A to Z. A Concise Encyclopedia. Vols. 1Ц3 3rd ed. Edited by Boy Cornils WolfgangA

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Catalysis from A to Z
A Concise Encyclopedia. Vols. 1–3, 3rd
ed. Edited by Boy
Cornils, Wolfgang A.
Herrmann, Martin
Muhler and ChiHuey Wong. WileyVCH, Weinheim
2007. 1560 pp.,
E 549.00.—ISBN
Catalysis plays a key role in competitiveness and sustainable development.
Catalytic processes not only have a
significant market in themselves, but
have an impact on world economics
that is one to two orders of magnitude
greater. Catalysis is also at the heart of
most of the processes and technologies
for sustainable development and for the
reduction of the environmental impact
of industrial production. Finally, catalysis is well recognized as a priority for
developing advanced materials and a
key player in advances in nanotechnologies. The award of the 2007 Nobel Prize
in Chemistry to G. Ertl further demonstrate the relevance of catalysis for
chemistry, science, and our sustainable
development and quality of life.
Catalysis is thus a key enabling
technology for society, but the associated development and applications
require multidisciplinary competences
(engineering, chemistry, physics, applied
catalysis, materials science, etc.), and
present interesting challenges in areas
ranging from fundamental studies (surface science, theory, and modeling) to
industrial applications. Tackling such
challenges in the future will require
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 1547 – 1548
further efforts on interdisciplinary and
multidisciplinary approaches and on
bridging the gap between fundamental
science and technology. This requires
using the correct terminology to communicate between cultural areas that
are often widely different, and having a
minimum set of common competences
that facilitate the exchange of information. For this reason, there is a need for a
concise encyclopedia, which explains in
a few sentences the concepts and terminologies used in the various areas of
catalysis, since researchers in disciplines
such as homogenous, heterogeneous,
and biological catalysis, as well as industrial process engineers, have all developed specialist terminologies for their
fields. In addition, managers in chemical
companies often need to better understand specialized terms, or to have
concise descriptions of important industrial processes. Because of the increasing
use of catalysts outside the traditional
fields, often by people with only a
minimal background in chemistry and
catalysis, there is a need for concise
descriptions of aspects such as the
preparation of catalysts, their characterization by different methods, and their
applications. These people will never
look at the established books and encyclopedias on catalysis, as these are too
specialized. Also the Internet, unlike a
concise encyclopedia, cannot always
provide them with reliable answers.
Therefore, the first edition of the
concise encyclopedia Catalysis from A
to Z already earned a positive evaluation and attracted a wide readership,
which ranged from chemists, biochemists, physicists, and engineers to nontechnical people such as journalists,
policy makers, managers, and business
people who needed to find a quick
answer and verification about particular
terms and concepts. Thus, the book is
suitable for both specialized and general
libraries. An edition accessible on the
Internet would also be welcome in this
sense, as it would further open up
Practice is often better than theory.
Therefore, I carried out two experiments to test whether the concise encyclopedia could really find extensive use
in practical life and research. For this, I
made the three volumes accessible
firstly to students in the area of indus-
trial chemistry and secondly to a group
of researchers and managers in a company. Both experiments gave very positive results. Therefore, I would strongly
recommend Catalysis from A to Z, not
only to all scientists and engineers in the
field of catalysis, but also to scientific
and general libraries, where researchers
looking at interdisciplinary areas and
other people (from journalists to managers) can find the correct definitions of
terms and concepts associated with
This third edition is a truly impressive revised and enlarged work. From
the single volume of the first edition,
with approximately 3000 keywords, the
work has grown to the present three
volumes with about 8000 keywords. A
valuable feature is that some keyword
articles refer to a Figure or a table (in
total, references to 3100 figures and 110
tables). There are more than 3300 crossreferences, and several keyword articles
also give references to French or
German translations, a further bonus.
More than 260 authors contributed to
the compilation of the articles, about 70
more than in the 2nd edition. (Most of
the best known specialists have contributed to the encyclopedia, but unfortunately not the winner of the 2007 Nobel
Prize, G. Ertl.) The articles on the more
general terms have been written by the
editors themselves, whose specialist
fields cover different complementary
aspects of catalysis. The articles by
external contributors have also been
edited to give homogeneity to the text.
R. Schl4gl is no longer on the editorial
board, but has been replaced by Martin
Muhler as an expert on heterogeneous
catalysis. All the articles from the
former editions have undergone careful
revision. It would always be possible to
find defects in the encyclopedia, such as
the absence of a particular keyword, or
some small imperfection in the terminology, but on the whole this third
edition represents a really significant
step forward in trying to give a complete
coverage of catalysis and a solid reference book on terminology and concepts.
One of the most valuable features of
the encyclopedia is the inclusion of short
descriptions of the main catalytic processes used by leading chemical manufacturers, often with a simplified flowsheet and a few references for further
+ 2008 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
reading. There is also an initial section
containing a list of the general references cited in the encyclopedia, which
serves as a kind of recommended virtual
library for textbooks on catalysis.
When possible, indications of patents and patent applications have also
been added to illustrate the technical
status of processes. Economic data on
annual production, catalyst consumption, etc., have been included wherever
possible. In both these cases, it is clearly
impossible to achieve a complete coverage of information that is rapidly changing. However, it is useful to have a
reference point.
In conclusion, Catalysis from A to Z
in this third edition is a valuable expert
guide for all people (researchers or
others) who seek concise definitions of
terms and concepts related to catalysis,
or need a better understanding of issues
related to catalysis. The readership is
potentially very broad, from students
and researchers in the areas of chemistry, chemical engineering, materials science, and biotechnology to nontechnical
people who need concise definitions or
explanations of concepts. Therefore, the
work is recommended for libraries, and
as a reference source for personal use or
in research laboratories. Finally, I rec-
+ 2008 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
ommend journalists, policy makers, and
managers to use the work, where they
can find a quick reference to avoid
possible mistakes when discussing technical points related to catalysis and its
key role for society and environmental
Gabriele Centi
Department of Industrial Chemistry and
Engineering of Materials
University of Messina (Italy)
DOI: 10.1002/anie.200785548
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2008, 47, 1547 – 1548
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concise, wolfgang, 1ц3, cornils, catalysing, edited, boy, 3rd, vols, encyclopedia
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